Talk of the Town
Kowie Bowling Club
If success breeds success does failure breed failure? Lawn bowls is in a crisis with dwindling numbers threatening our existence.
In the 1950s to 60s, we boasted 50,000 registered bowlers in SA.
In 1976, we hosted World Bowls and made a clean sweep of all the titles – we registered 70,000 bowlers.
Lean years followed and the international trophy cupboard remained empty. There were no heroes like Watson and Campbell.
Since then, we have dwindled to 20,000 members. Another contributing factor was the withdrawal of specialised municipal support for greens management in the cities.
Mediocrity in greens management became the norm and with it the quality of our bowls. There are few Gavins around to produce perfect surfaces.
Our problems are exacerbated by the global tendency to prefer being spectators rather than participants.
It has now become a case of dog-eat-dog, with the sporting codes vying for fewer participants, for example, rugby scouts patrol the school playgrounds, and golf clubs subsidise a global Under 6 league.
On the bowls front in Scotland, the bowling authorities subsidise 6,000 children between the ages of six and 13 to play bowls.
Australia has more school league U18 bowlers than we have adults playing.
In SA, when a club’s playing membership drops below the level where the greenkeeper’s assistant can no longer be paid, the whole club closes.
In Australia, I visited small clubs where the members did the maintenance themselves.
Three times a week, two men arrived and mowed the green, two more cleaned up the surrounds, and this was followed by two other men rolling the green and putting out the boards, while another manned the bar in case the workers got thirsty.
In SA, 95% of bowls club executives are more than 60 years old.
Their forward vision and planning is limited to that period when they will still be able to enjoy it.
Younger sports executives tend to look at the good of the whole instead of the individual. If we do not want to come second, then it is time to broaden our vision.
In my New Year wish for our members I can do no better than to plagiarise JFK and say “ask not what bowls can do for you but what you can do for bowls”.
We are playing within the restrictions imposed by the Clovis Protocol and have even been able to start the Eastern Areas Singles with the novices and seniors (ladies at Kenton and men at Kowie).
The ladies’ veterans winner was Judy Alexander, ladies novices winner Louise Vincent, while the men’s veterans section winners were Jacques Krige, Brian Rogers, Stan Long and Derek Fish. The final was won by Stan Long.
The men’s novices final will be between Mike Ryan, Lennie Clark, Lester Scriven and TJ Mclean.